Not now! Please, not now.
I'm not ready to say goodbye to you. Not now. Not a mere 12 days after losing my beloved Marshmallow. In the span of less than two weeks I've lost two of the most important things in my life. Things. What an inadequate word to describe my cats. Should I have used animals? Too limiting. Beings? Too ambiguous. I'm searching for a proper term, but I'm coming up empty. Can you blame me for not having a clear head at the moment? Hell, yesterday, hours after you left us, we made tuna casserole for dinner and, because we were so out of sorts, so sorrowful, we forgot to include the tuna!
Our shortest month is the cruelest. It's associated with hearts and love, but February, in 2012, has been nothing but heartbreak and lost loves for me. For my family.
Yesterday is a blur. A heartbreaking, mind-boggling blur. Did you really have a seizure on the dining room floor? Was I really holding you as you convulsed violently? Did we really rush to the vets, to no avail? Thirteen is too young to die. I can't process this. Were you that eager, Khalid, to get to the other side of the Rainbow Bridge and see Marsh again? If that's the case, I wouldn't blame you. But I would miss you. I do miss you. Terribly.
Never again will I have you look up at me with your marble eyes, black as night. You were so trusting, always, but particularly during your twice-daily insulin injections and pill takings. Mom made you as comfortable as possible, of course. I teased her about it, but she was the true "chief of staff" at our in-house hospital.
All your "visits" to the bed for your injections and pills ended the same: with Mom planting a kiss (or two or three or four) atop your little head. You knew the routine, and you didn't attempt to leave until the kiss was given. One time, Mom forgot your kiss and left the room, only to return minutes later with you still recumbent on the bed, awaiting your smooches. You didn't leave the bed. Yesterday, you left this big bed we call earth — and you took a piece of me with you.
You gave so much more than you took, however. I suppose you had a lot to give. You were, after all, a bit big-boned, just like your namesake Khalid El-Amin, the starting point guard on the 1998-99 UConn basketball team that won the national championship. I was in the arena in St. Petersburg, Florida, the day Khalid and his teammates captured the national title. It was a great, great day that continues to bring me immeasurable joy. It's fitting, then, that you were named for one of the team's players, for you too have brought me more happiness than I could have ever envisioned.
You weren't the excessively loving, cuddle-in-your-lap cat, but when you wanted "ups," you perched on your back legs, placed your front paws on our knees and sought rough knuckle rubs atop your head. Oh, how I wish I could give you one more.
Or have you sleep with Paul one more time. You didn't grace us with your presence often, but on the rare occasions you did sleep with us, you'd get so content and reach such a state of comfort that you'd drool. That always made Paul smile. If my brother's smiling, I'm smiling. So thank you, Khalid.
I must admit, I can't thank you for the following: Every so often, your "deposits" in the litter box would be so strong, so terribly strong, that gas masks would have come in handy. They were, as Paul described 'em, "the stinkiest poops in the world — worse than any human."
But, even sans gas masks, we didn't care. In fact, we found it funny. You were our "Big Guy," after all. Our "Chumbawumba." Our "Fatty Fat Fat." Affection monikers all.
Whose PH level will I check now? (Of course, your PH level had nothing to do with acids and bases. It measured the status of your "poopy heinie.") Who will come running when I open a can of food? (I couldn't snap the tab on a can without you hearing it and making a beeline toward the kitchen, even if I purposely had the water running to drown out the pop! of the can.) Who will drink out of the backyard birdbath again? Whose bladder-control problems will result in wet basement floors for me to scrub? (It was a dirty job, but it pales in comparison to the times you peed on us as we carried you into the bedroom for your insulin shot!)
I'll save your favorite spots for you, Khalid. In the cat bed, under the dining room window. Under the backyard pine tree, where you were safe, secluded, shaded ... and close enough to the back door to hear calls of "You want to eat?" In the northwest corner of the deck, where you'd sleep or watch the backyard menagerie, including the mice and birds, of which you caught one or two (who's counting?) during your 13-plus years as a member of our family. You'd leave your "catch of the day" at the back door for us. A gift. How thoughtful.
The best gift you gave me, of course, was you. I'll carry it with me, always.
Give Marsh a kiss for me. I love you, Khalid.